The Shack is Christianity’s latest runaway best-selling book — and author Willam P. Young was in Abbotsford, BC last weekend for his only Canadian appearance.
The book concerns a father whose daughter was killed on a camping trip. His marriage and his relationship with God have suffered, but one day he receives a note — apparently from God — inviting him back to the shack in the woods where his daughter was killed.
The resulting portrait of God is somewhat fresh and unusual, and has been praised by several Christian leaders.
Eugene Peterson has endorsed the book, saying: “This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!”
Anglican minister Dale Lang, whose son was killed in a Columbine copycat shooting nine years ago, has also endorsed The Shack, stating: “This book goes beyond being the well-written, suspenseful page-turner that it is. Since the death of our son Jason, the Lord has led us to a small number of life-changing books — and this one heads the list. When you close the back cover, you will be changed.”
Other celebrity endorsements have come from singers Michael W. Smith and Wynonna Judd.
The popularity of the book has made a big impression on Lando Klassen, owner of the House of James bookstore, where Young appeared for a signing.
“There is no other book like it,” Klassen told CC.com. “Some people are buying five copies to give to friends! We have sold 2,700 copies in six months.”
Readers have posted 172 reviews of The Shack at Amazon.com, with an impressive 152 of them granting the book a full five stars out of five.
Eric Wilson, a novelist based in Nashville, praised the book and its depiction of God in his review, stating: “This is not the God of stodgy Sunday school classes. This is not a flannel-graph Jesus. This is not limited to a fluttering dove of the Holy Spirit. The descriptions here are startling, while remaining true to the nature of God’s love and grace as portrayed through Scripture. Not only are they startling, they’re wise and moving and beautiful.”
Young, speaking to CC.com from his home in Oregon, said he was inspired to write the book because “I was trying to save my kids 40 years! I actually wrote it out of obedience to my wife, who thought I should record the big picture of how I think and what I believe. I did just that, and gave them [the manuscript] in a spiral binder.”
Young said he wrote the book — which portrays the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as individual people who visit Mack — to explore the centrality of “relationship” to Christianity, “as opposed to the ‘performance’ paradigm that seems to be so common.”
Relationship, said Young, “has to exist within the very nature of God; I just describe them relating to each other. It has been totally accidental, but some consider the book a significant contribution to understanding the nature of the Trinity.”